Saturday, May 2, 2020

Zarifa Sautiyeva – the Ingush Political Prisoner Neither Moscow Nor Magas Can Break

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 1 – Despite the earlier prominence of some of the other Ingush activists now in detention, Zarifa Sautiyeva, the only woman among them, has become the public face for many of the resistance of her nation to the illegal giving up of the republic’s land to Chechnya and the continuing incarceration of those who have protested against it.

            On this May Day, when people around the world are “in forced isolation because of the pandemic,” Izabella Yevloyeva offers a 2500-word portrait of Sautiyeva who has been forcibly detained for far longer and now languishes in jail in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria (

            Yevloyeva who created the Fortanga portal is a close friend of Sautiyeva’s and provides many details about her family, its experience with the deportation, and, something not often commented upon, Zarifa Sautiyeva’s work with the blind in Ingushetia, a group that is often ignored by others.

            Arrested briefly after the March 2019 protests, Sautiyeva has been in detention since July 12 of last year, immediately after Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov replaced Yunus-Bek Yevkurov as the head of the republic.  She has been routinely mistreated, denied necessary medicine and not informed about the death of her brother. 

            All these official actions have been designed to break her, but none has succeeded. At the beginning, she assumed and hoped that “people in power in the republic, being fellow landsmen, sharing the same understandings and education would do everything so that she would be freed, especially since in Ingushetia everyone understands” the charges against her are invented.

            But that hasn’t happened. And indeed, it is “an irony of fate that Sautiyeva, an individual with a heightened sense of justice and an employee of a museum of political repressions has herself become a victim of repressions,” Yevloyeva says.  But despite all this, Sautiyeva “has not lost hope” that justice will prevail.

            Meanwhile, lawyer Musa Pliyev is demanding that the procuracy look into why the republic has proven so unprepared to cope with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic ( And Kalimatov has issued a May Day declaration that ignores both the pandemic and the protests (

            That is an example of the kind of tone deafness on the part of the republic leadership and its Moscow masters that makes hope for the future ever more difficult to sustain.

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